Born in 1919 to a Scottish father and a Canadian mother, Elspeth Dryer spent her early years of her childhood in England. When she was nine her parents returned to Scotland and she continued her schooling at George Watson's Ladies' College in Edinburgh. From there she went on to study Fine Arts, English and Philosophy at Edinburgh University before moving to Edinburgh College of Art where she took a Diploma iin Art. After graduating she taught painting for several years in the Borders, Aberdeen and Northern Ireland. She married the philospher George Elder Davie in 1944 (he was teaching at Queen's University Belfast) and a daughter was born to them in 1946.
The family returned to Scotland and settled in Edinburgh which provided the scene and the material for much of Elspeth Davie's writing from then on, with her perceptive eye for disturbing nuances of apparently banal and everyday happenings. Davie had written short stories as a teenager but her first book was a novel, Providing, published in 1965. Her second book was a collection called The Spark and Other Stories (1968). Three more novels were published over the years; Creating a Scene (1971) which deals with teaching art and received a Scottish Arts Council Award. Climbers on a Stair (1978) and Coming to Light (1989). But it was her short stories which brought her particular succes with readers and critics alike, and her stories appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. She received another Scottish Arts Council Award in 1977 and the prestigious Katherine Mansfield Prize in 197. Her stories appeard in The High Tide Talker and Other Stories (1976), The Night of the Funny Hats (1980), A Traveller's Room (1985) and Death of a Doctor and Other Stories (1992). Elspeth Davie died in 1995.